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Author Topic: Laughing at my child  (Read 29000 times)

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Re: Laughing at my child
« Reply #60 on: February 19, 2013, 11:23:30 AM »
I can well believe that your MIL is laughing out of sheer delight at her granddaughter's cuteness, and she certainly doesn't mean any harm. However, meaning well doesn't necessarily make it OK.

I think sometimes people don't realize how often they laugh *at* children rather than *with* them. I can't speak for every child, but I remember how I felt when adults laughed at me. I felt like they were laughing at me because they thought I was stupid. It made me feel very small and stupid when mistakes or serious things I said were laughed at.

If MIL is laughing at every. single. thing. your DD says or does, that's just over the top. If you think this is bothering your daughter, then by all means say something.  Perhaps something as simple as "I know you don't mean it like this, but when you laugh at everything DD says, she thinks you're laughing at her."

« Last Edit: February 19, 2013, 12:16:18 PM by acicularis »

Sheila Take a Bow

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Re: Laughing at my child
« Reply #61 on: February 19, 2013, 11:30:29 AM »
I think you need to keep in mind that you're not likely to change your MIL.  So I think you're better off teaching your daughter how to cope.

(That being said, I do believe that your MIL is likely just delighted with her granddaughter.)

My daughter was a very articulate toddler, and she always sounded so deadly serious.  People who knew her said she sounded like a tiny 40-year-old.  It was very common for people to laugh at her whenever she spoke, because, well, a tiny 40-year-old is a pretty funny thing to see.

When people would laugh, she'd often furrow her little brow because she wasn't trying to be funny, she was being serious.  And she'd ask me why people were laughing.  So I told her the truth:  "They're laughing because they think you're cute."

It really turned things around for her.  She stopped getting mad when she was laughed at, and instead she'd smile when people laughed.  And it made her talk more -- more talking, more laughs, more happiness for her.

Even if your MIL is being malicious (which, again, I don't think is the case), it's never too young to teach your daughter how to handle herself in situations that make her unhappy.


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Re: Laughing at my child
« Reply #62 on: February 19, 2013, 11:56:42 AM »
POD to Sheila Take A Bow.  Maybe it's a personality thing, but I was a very precocious child and people laughed at things I said all the time.  I don't recall ever thinking they were making fun of me.  I don't know whether my parents explained what Sheila Take A Bow suggested to me or whether I just knew they were laughing because they thought it was cute.  My daughter seems to be the same way - she gets a lot of laughs from strangers and friends and family and I have never gotten the sense she thinks these people are making fun of her.  I don't think she even knows what that would feel like or what to look for!


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Re: Laughing at my child
« Reply #63 on: February 19, 2013, 12:36:40 PM »
OP, you mentioned in one of your updates that you might ask your DH to get involved.  Has he ever witnessed this, or expressed an opinion himself on whether it's over the top?

I do have to say the update where your DD actually eats jelly for dessert makes this more confusing.  In her eyes, it's like saying she wants an ice cream cone.  Have you clarified with MIL that this really is the dessert?  If so, that might be a good place for DH to start.   There's nothing that funny in a child stating a simple fact, and at 4, I'd think most kids would know this on some level.


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Re: Laughing at my child
« Reply #64 on: February 19, 2013, 12:42:12 PM »
Honestly, at this point, I'd take your cue from your daughter. If your daughter's not having a negative reaction (more than just a weird look), I'd leave it alone. Yeah, it sounds annoying, but it's probably nothing to get exercised about. If your DD says something to you or reacts in a way that indicates this is becoming a problem for her, have a word with your MIL. My guess is that DD will make it very clear if and when Gran's laughter starts to bother her.
William wondered why he always disliked people who said "no offense meant." Maybe it was because they found it easier to say "no offense meant" than actually to refrain from giving offense.

--Terry Pratchett, The Truth


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Re: Laughing at my child
« Reply #65 on: February 19, 2013, 03:35:59 PM »
My DD has a speech impediment and, although speech therapy is helping, she still has trouble with some words.  Even at an early age, if someone would laugh (because it was cute) she would get upset.   Your DD is gonna start wondering why Grandma laughs at everything that comes out of her mouth, because little kids can be just as serious as an adult, no matter how cute it seems, and to laugh at them seems to discount their feelings.  I would also have an issue with your MIL laughing over house rules, because they aren't funny, they are there for a reason and to me, laughing seems like (not that I think she is) discounting your authority and rules.  Maybe you can gently say "Mom, when you laugh at everything she says or does, she doesn't think you are really listening to what she is telling you.  Can you please have a regular conversation and listen to if she is being serious or silly?"  She is just so probably thrilled that her granddaughter exists that she just has joy over everything, without listening (I have one of those too!)  Good Luck

POD to this, especially the bolded. I don't think MIL is necessarily trying to do anything bad, but considering that DD not only gave her a weird look but also walked away from the conversation, the constant over-the-top laughter doesn't seem to be engaging her. Also, I don't think another adult laughing at your house rules is very polite. If this happened frequently it could teach DD not to take them seriously.

Being non-confrontational, I would probably try to get around it without addressing MIL directly. As people suggested earlier, maybe try to guide them through an activity together, like reading the same book or singing a song, where long bursts of laughter would be more obviously disruptive.

Or I might say something like, "Lately we've been working with DD to focus on having an actual conversation of several lines. It's so hard, though, because I have to remind myself not to laugh at the adorable things she says! But I've noticed that just distracts her." And see if MIL gets the hint.

Or, maybe modeling how you'd like MIL to respond--the next time she laughs when DD repeats a house rule, for example, pretend MIL isn't laughing and say to DD (so MIL can hear), "Yes, that's one of our rules, isn't it? That's a very important rule in our house. I'm so glad you remembered it." (Or whatever you would normally say to DD.)

As for repeating the joke over and over to other people... If she's doing this during her conversation time with DD, you could approach it from the "distraction" angle again--DD's attention span is limited, so when MIL makes these asides, DD loses focus and doesn't want to talk to her. If she's trying to get you and your DH to laugh, just stare at her blankly. "Yes, we heard what DD said. I don't think she was trying to be funny, though." Maybe tell FIL that he shouldn't be pressured to laugh if he doesn't feel like it--that you won't be offended, for example. And if you're with MIL at a later time when she retells the "hilarious" story, feel free to just kind of shrug at the other person, so they don't feel pressured to laugh.


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Re: Laughing at my child
« Reply #66 on: February 19, 2013, 04:42:40 PM »
I understand your point of view, but I also think that your MIL probably only has the best of intentions. Some people laugh more easily than others. I am one of those people. It's not that I think everything is SO HILARIOUS, but it just comes out of me easily..

I laugh at my kids for things like what you described. Not because I'm laughing at them, or that I think house rules are funny, but because they sound like tiny adults. It just makes me happy, and I DO think it's that cute. My older one is especially clear in speech, and the things she says to me just kill me sometimes.

However, I do remember when I was younger, I felt like adults were laughing AT me for such things, even when they weren't. It made me afraid to speak at all even when I shouldn't have been. My kids aren't yet aware enough to be bothered by it, but if I notice that happening, I'll stop doing it so much.

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Re: Laughing at my child
« Reply #67 on: February 19, 2013, 10:21:03 PM »
I think it's the degree of laughter that puts it over the topic. A smile and a chuckle at statements like this would not be that big a deal, but uproarious laughter nearly to the point of tears seems...well, a bit much. Like others here, I remember being that kid. And sure, for some kids it doesn't bother them at all, but some are more sensitive. I think if you phrase it in terms of your daughter becoming self-conscious rather than your MIL doing something 'wrong' it's not a problem really.

I absolutely agree that she likely has the best of intentions, but intent isn't everything...people can do things that are hurtful without ever realising they're being so.